Cal Meiklejohn and his wife, Jacinta Ferrari, get a charge out of driving their small stable of electric cars – and they look forward to the day when millions more Canadians will join them.
The veteran Penticton architect and his wife decided five years ago they were going to do their small part to personally reduce their carbon footprint and switch from gasoline-powered automobiles to electric vehicles.
The decision to switch to electric was directly related to their growing concerns about climate change and the worldwide crisis so many believe is imminent without massive widespread action by governments and citizens around the world.
“No solution is perfect and we understand that, but at least we know nothing poisonous is coming out the tail end of our electric cars,” said Meiklejohn.
“If everyone does their own small part, maybe we can get this thing under control,” added Ferrari. “It’s obvious to us this is a real problem in the world right now. All we can do is our own small part.”
Their first purchase was a Fiat 500 Electric they bought used from a dealership in Richmond.
“It was such a hoot to drive,” he said. “We had a gas-burning Fiat … and liked it, but drove the electric one and loved it.”
Meiklejohn spends a lot of time on the road for work and quickly realized the Fiat didn’t have enough juice to get him everywhere he needed to go.
“We started looking at a second vehicle about three years ago and settled on the BMW I-3 with a range extender to charge the battery. I get another 70 miles on that. That was my security blanket,” he explained.
Six months ago, they traded in their last gas-powered vehicle, a reliable Toyota Rav 4, for a Volvo electric SUV, which can travel close to 300 kilometres between charges.
With gas stations in abundance across B.C. and much of the western world, you seldom have to plan a road trip around fuel stops for gas-powered vehicles, but that’s certainly not the case with electric cars.
“You need to think differently,” explained Meiklejohn.
“You can’t just pull out of your driveway, fill up and go. You have to plan ahead and be prepared. You have to plan to know you have enough battery or realize you might need a little extra time.”
With American electric vehicle producer Tesla now established and major American manufacturers like Ford, General Motors and Chrysler all committed to revolutionizing the automobile industry by switching from gas to electric, the changes in the coming years are going to be dramatic, believes Meiklejohn.
“I think there’s going to be a paradigm shift to stop the greenhouse gas and climate change problems that are happening,” he said.
“I think there’s going to be a need for be more efficient in everything electric. Batteries are going to be much more efficient. Everybody’s going to be more efficient and start accepting alternatives, be it wind power and solar. It’s going to be a painful transition, but we have no choice.”
Most electric vehicles certainly do cost more, “but are basically maintenance-free” and when you factor in the price of gasoline, owners are saving big bucks in the long run, added Meiklejohn.
Ferrari said taking hundreds of millions of gas-powered vehicles off roads and highways around the world and replacing them with electric will play a significant role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and halting climate change moving forward.
“We can build vehicles that are not assaulting our environment all the time,” she said.